Over the course of his career, Big Ben Hillman has shared the stage with a host of diverse and well known musicians including hip hop stars Method Man and Ghostface Killa from the Wu Tang Clan, De La Soul, Biz Markie, Digable Planets and Mix Master Mike of The Beasty Boys. He has also been seen performing
Big Ben Hillman is quite the smooth retro funkster…. The production is excellent on all levels, keeping the listener in a comfortable, easy-flowing harmonic place. Ben never falters – his compositions and production show signs of a master at work enjoying his craft. I’m just going to think of Big Ben Hillman as the new Barry White on the opposite end of the vocal spectrum. – T Max, The Noise
After some twenty-five years of marriage, long time local, touring, and studio musician Jimmy Ryan teamed up to form The Nocturnal Adoration Society with his wife, Donna Sartanowicz to write songs and play music. This new collaboration seamlessly blends a variety of musical perspectives and with only bass guitar and mandolin/mandocello this pairing is like nothing else out there. Straight-foward, honest songs delivered with heartfelt harmonies and intricate mandolin work.
Jimmy Ryan has been living, working, and playing in and around Boston for some 30 years. The founding member of The Blood Oranges in the late 1980’s, Jimmy has gone on to front a number of bands including Hayride, The Clockburners, Wooden Leg, and The Architects of Reason. An experienced studio musician he can be found on records by Mophine, Warren Zevon, and The Paddy Saul Band.
Donna Sartanowicz is a high school art teacher who moonlights as a musician, singer, and songwriter. Creative work is creative work whether it is painting or playing music. A member of the all-girl punk pop band Fertile Virgin back in the late 80’s early 90’s – Donna and two of the other women in the band reunited in Summer of 2016 to form a new band now called The Very.
“Stan Martin is a keeper of the traditional country music flame. He’s a Don Rich/Danny Gatton-schooled Telecaster-loving guitar picker, a virtuoso who is not a showoff. And he’s a skilled writer and musician who is unabashedly, unapologetically country. Martin’s original songs have a moving, sometimes comic, honesty. He retains a romantic toughness, as with some of Waylon Jennings early 1970s tunes written before the outlaw stance became a circus act.” Rick Allen Vintage Guitar
The Blue Ribbons was formed by singer/songwriter/keyboardist James Rohr.
They have been building a base of devoted fans with their original and soulful music.
“Ray Charles and Tom Waits on a pirate ship with Sun Ra and Captain Beefheart,” they combine “upbeat disillusionment and celebratory fatalism with musicianship” – Charan Devereux; Boston Globe.
“Frank Drake is one of the most unique musicians around. He is refreshingly free of conventions and covers a wide spectrum of folk-pop-and-more styles . . . ” Steve Morse – Boston Globe
“Straddling the line where folk/roots meets rock/blues, Danielle Miraglia has a voice that can go from a raspy come-hither purr to an Etta James-esque powerhouse belt, although she may be best known for her lead thumb — a heavy, thumping strike on her Gibson that’s backdrop percussion in itself.” – Lauren Daley – Boston Globe
John Cate is a prolific songwriter. He has written more than 1,000 songs and recorded 12 albums since returning to music in 1996, two of which have been released by Blue Rose Records in Germany. Producers include Anthony J. Resta (Elton John, Collective Soul, Duran Duran, Shawn Mullins) for “A Whole New Day”, “X”, “The Wonder Show”, “Livin in the Moment”, David Minehan (The Replacements) for “Wild Way”, “X” and “A Whole New Day”, and Rob Fraboni (Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan for “Two Brothers”.
John’s songs are featured in film, network television and on DVDs, including such projects and programs as “NCIS”, “Justified”, “American Idol”, “Num3ers” and many others.
Tacoma Narrows is a 6 piece folk-rock band rapidly gaining popularity in New York City and across the country.
Here’s part of their story:
We’ve taken all the best parts of folk, bluegrass, Americana, funk and rock, and stirred them up to create a new American sound, and we’re becoming known for our high-energy, dance-infused live shows.
Tacoma Narrows is named after the old bridge in Washington that collapsed in the 1940s, a tragic but beautiful show of physics and the power of mother nature.
“Tacoma Narrows, a NYC based band, taps into traditional folk and old-time country music, infusing the admixture with a pop-rocking dose of big city adrenaline. They’ve been around the block. The music is tight but flexible, wistful but wired. My toes are totally tappin’ to it. This remarkable first offering sets the bar encouragingly high. The making of this album was an odyssey from which emerged a band of truly professional recording artists as well as live performers, Tacoma Narrows with Good Mourning have a runaway hit.
Belen Cusi is a singer from Argentina & Texas…Latin soul music, seeking to change the world through song.
Originally from Argentina, Belén grew up in San Antonio, Texas. She began playing classical piano at age eight, but with no intentions of attending conservatory, she instead chose a liberal arts path at Boston University and, seeking a more urban environment, made the move at age 18. However it wasn’t long before she realized she couldn’t give up playing piano and connected with local piano teacher and music producer Tim Lukas, with whom she began singing and studying song-writing and composition. Shortly after, they began work on Belén’s first album, “Closer”, and what would be the beginning of her singer-songwriter career.
More on David Johnston: You’re rushing through the city streets, maybe late for an appointment, distracted by your life’s many obligations, and you blow right past a street musician, hard at work. And you stop. And you listen. And you enter the moment and think, ‘Wow, this guy can really play.’
Geneviève Beaudoin is a singer-songwriter currently based in Portland, Maine. Having performed in Paris, New York, Amsterdam and points between, her raw, vocally-driven work adds an international accent to the traditions of American folk music.
Inspiration seeped through the windows of apartment 5J on Barrow Street looking out over the Hudson River in NYC’s Greenwich Village, where singer-songwriters Eryn Murman and Jason Hite soaked up the energy and passion of musicians, painters, poets, and writers who created the Village vibe. Together, they paid tribute to those creative spirits and named their band 5j Barrow, writing music and lyrics with an Indie-folk sound, sometimes as a duo, and often picking up other musicians to create unique arrangements.
“5j Barrow is the band that makes you stop what you’re doing and stare…Their music is everything I want music to be. Energetic, evocative, unfiltered, and beautiful. In an age of auto tune and quantization, top 10 charts without any real instruments on them, 5j Barrow is the cure…. With dynamics that range from a whisper to a tsunami, their songs tell stories of love, loss, and longing.” (The Street Noise Project, Brad Geyer)
Sonya is part of the new breed of blues and soul musicians, always searching for new ways to revitalize the form. A triple threat, Sonya is a fiery guitar slinger, soulful blues belter and a songwriter of depth and craft beyond her years. She is joined by her husband Ryan Taylor to form a powerful guitar duo. The couple has logged many miles in their young careers, from Boston to Austin then Nashville, where Sonya was signed by BMG Chrysalis. The two have worked with or shared stage with artists ranging from Austin queen of soul, Tameca Jones, Gary Clark Jr, John Popper of Blues Traveler, John Medeski and Derrico Watson of the Victor Wooten Band and have made TV appearances on shows such as the the ABC series “Nashville”. They are two of the finest young guitar players in the scene today and continue to provide audiences with high energy and soulful performances up and down the east coast and beyond.
Corin Ashley is a lifelong musician who formerly led Boston mod-pop heroes The Pills in the 2000’s, as they toured extensively around the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Over a 10-year span, The Pills released three full-length albums, toured and performed with The B-52s, The Libertines, Supergrass, Sloan, Edwin McCain, The Wrens, Juliana Hatfield, The Smithereens, Nada Surf, Jimmy Cliff, and pretty much every one-hit early 2000s alternative radio band with a number in their name. His 2013 album New Lion Terraces was recorded at Q Division and Abbey Road Studios in London and featured contributions from Kay Hanley (Letters To Cleo), Ken Stringfellow (The Posies), drummer Dave Mattacks (Fairport Convention/XTC), Edward Ball (TV Personalities) and Martin Carr. Corin is, always, accompanied on his new album by his ever faithful drummer Matt Burwell who will bitch and complain if he gets left out of the press release.
Grain Thief is a 5-piece Americana band from Boston, Massachusetts. The self-proclaimed “Northern Country Barn Grass” band released their new EP “Animal” in the fall in November of 2016. The band is singer-songwriter/guitarist Patrick Mulroy, Tom Farrell on guitar, Zach Meyer on Mandolin, Alex Barstow on Violin, and Mike Harmon on the Bass fiddle.
“In a day an age where the chamber-grass of Punch Brothers and anything with a banjo could be classified as ‘bluegrass’ music the unadulterated and raw sound of straight bluegrass music is a well welcomed gift to my ears. … sometimes I just want some no apologies pickin’ and hollering with soaring fiddles and quick paced mandolin runs. Grain Thief is that kind of band…and for that, I thank them.” -Red Line Roots, Jan 6th, 2016
“A veritable Grand Ole Opry with a modern sense of humor….” (Music Connection Magazine)
(acoustic and electric guitars; bass guitar, keyboards; backing vocals);
(lead and backing vocals, percussion, acoustic guitar, clarinet, ukulele, songwriting);
(bass guitar, acoustic, electric, and resophonic guitars; percussion; lead and backing vocals);
(lead and backing vocals, mandolin, tenor banjo, acoustic guitar, percussion, songwriting);
(lead and backing vocals, accordion, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, harmonica, songwriting)
…and whenever possible:
Sarah Levecque is a singer songwriter guitarist who moves easily between the sturdy roots of American music. Influenced in equal parts by early blues, country, folk and rock music.
“Sarah’s, See Me Come Around is equal parts sultry and whimsical, a smoky, bluesy fold tune that rolls with a sort of mischievous loll. It’s both easy going and solid, the sort of song you can just lose yourself in. Elsewhere on Restless Restless Blues, Levecque’s music moves at a slow, steady honky tonk pace. There’s and immense steadiness about these songs, but also a sort of undeniable force, like a slow-moving freight train”.
-Victor D. Infante, Worcester Telegram
Handsomebeast – yes, one word – is a five piece band based out of Houston, TX. They are the founders of an irresistible genre dubbed by the pioneers themselves as Space-Rock-Bump-n-Grind, which incorporates elements of classic and indie rock with futuristic electrofunk and infectious pop.